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GL E-Note 06-20-2023


Philadelphia Courts to Reopen for In-Person Settlement Conferences on June 20, 2023

By: Chimdi Tuffs, Esq. 

The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Trial Division Civil released a memo to the Philadelphia Bar regarding revised protocol for mandatory pre-trial settlement conferences in the Major Jury Program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these conferences were ordered to be conducted through Zoom video conferences due to the public health emergency. Now, with courts increasingly returning to pre-COVID-19 operations and procedures, settlement conferences in Philadelphia will return to in-person sessions in City Hall before a Judge Pro Tempore beginning June 20, 2023. A copy of the Order can be found here.

Philadelphia Major Jury Settlement conferences are conducted by Judges Pro Tempore (colloquially referred to as “JPTs” or “Judges Pro Tem”) who are practicing attorneys of various backgrounds, trained by and working under the supervision of Judicial Team Leaders to resolve cases before trial. These mandatory conferences are to be negotiated in good faith among the parties to attempt to resolve the case with the assistance of an experienced JPT. JPTs submit reports to judges after the conference containing notes regarding the merits of the case, whether it should be remanded to arbitration, what stipulations the parties made, and if the parties complied with filing obligations.

Failure to adequately participate in a mandatory settlement conference can result in the issuance of a Rule to Show Cause before the Judicial Team Leader who will decide the appropriate penalty if the non-participating party does not submit a timely settlement conference memorandum, fails to negotiate in good faith at the conference, or appears unprepared to make good faith efforts to resolve the case. Our Gfeller Laurie LLP team has extensive experience preparing for, attending, and resolving cases, as appropriate, at these mandatory settlement conferences in Philadelphia while zealously advocating for our clients in both defense and coverage matters.